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US Puerto Rico, unable to vote, becomes crucial to US election

07:25  19 october  2020
07:25  19 october  2020 Source:   msn.com

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Puerto Rico 's nearly 3.2 million residents are U . S . citizens but they aren't allowed to vote for president. Nor are these four other U . S . territories. It has three electoral votes . Territories can help choose each party's nominee, however. The political parties have the ability to include them in the primary

The US territory of Puerto Rico has voted to ask Congress to make it America's 51st state . More than 97% of voters favoured attempting to join the US over Close to 30% of all voters in that election cast blank or invalid ballots, a situation which generated doubts about the vote 's political legitimacy.

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — The campaigns of President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden are rallying people in a place where U.S. citizens cannot cast ballots but have the ear of hundreds of thousands of potential voters in the battleground state of Florida.

Omar Mediavilla, who urges his brother Jerick (Florida resident) to exercise the right to vote that the island's residents do not have, drinks a cup of coffee at his balcony in Toa Alta, Puerto Rico, Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020. President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden are targeting Puerto Rico in a way never seen before to gather the attention of tens of thousands of potential voters in the battleground state of Florida. (AP Photo/Carlos Giusti) © Provided by Associated Press Omar Mediavilla, who urges his brother Jerick (Florida resident) to exercise the right to vote that the island's residents do not have, drinks a cup of coffee at his balcony in Toa Alta, Puerto Rico, Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020. President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden are targeting Puerto Rico in a way never seen before to gather the attention of tens of thousands of potential voters in the battleground state of Florida. (AP Photo/Carlos Giusti) Kristian Torres, who urges his sister (Georgia resident) to exercise the right to vote that the island's residents do not have, works one of several musical productions for advertising campaigns against the candidacy of President Donald Trump in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020. President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden are targeting Puerto Rico in a way never seen before to gather the attention of tens of thousands of potential voters in the battleground state of Florida. (AP Photo/Carlos Giusti) © Provided by Associated Press Kristian Torres, who urges his sister (Georgia resident) to exercise the right to vote that the island's residents do not have, works one of several musical productions for advertising campaigns against the candidacy of President Donald Trump in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020. President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden are targeting Puerto Rico in a way never seen before to gather the attention of tens of thousands of potential voters in the battleground state of Florida. (AP Photo/Carlos Giusti)

The candidates are targeting Puerto Rico in a way never before seen, with the U.S. territory suddenly finding itself in the crosshairs of a high-stakes race even though Puerto Ricans on the island cannot vote in presidential elections despite being U.S. citizens since 1917.

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Elections in Puerto Rico are guaranteed by Article Six of the Constitution of Puerto Rico and the Electoral Code of Puerto Rico for the 21st Century Act. All processes are overseen and managed in whole by the Puerto Rico State Elections Commission

The 2020 United States House of Representatives election in Puerto Rico will be held on November 3, 2020, to elect the Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico

Campaigners know this, but they hope those on the island will push relatives and friends on the U.S. mainland to vote for them in a strategy that capitalizes on the close ties they share.

It’s a novel role that plays off the sentiment that Puerto Ricans in Florida feel they are voting by proxy for those back home left out of U.S. democracy. And a growing number find this role appealing, especially since many on the island are struggling to recover from hurricanes Irma and Maria, a string of strong earthquakes, a deep economic crisis and the pandemic.

“I'm voting for 3 million Puerto Ricans on the island, including my entire family,” said Jerick Mediavilla, who is from the mountain town of Corozal and is voting in a U.S. presidential election for the first time after moving to Orlando four years ago. “Puerto Rico doesn’t have a voice. Our voice is via the United States.”

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  Puerto Rican vote becomes essential as early voting begins in Florida Early voting began in Florida Monday, and Hispanic voters are on track to become the largest minority voting bloc. Roughly 2.4 million Latinos registered to vote in Florida, making up a record-breaking 12% of the state's total voters, according to the Pew Research Center. © Joe Raedle/Getty Images Voters fill out their ballots as they vote at the Stephen P. Clark Government Center polling station on Oct. 19, 2020, in Miami. But the political beliefs in the state -- even among Hispanics -- are as diverse as its Latino population.

U . S . citizens are allowed to register to vote in local Puerto Rico elections as long as they give up their voter registration in the U . S . We recommend you do register to vote in Puerto Rico because that will help you satisfy the closer connections test and establish bona fide residency.

Most states nearly always vote the same way, meaning that in reality there are just a handful of In the electoral college system the US uses to elect its president, each state is given a number of Can we trust the polls? media captionCan election polling predict who will become the next US president?

It’s people like Mediavilla that Democrats and Republicans are trying to target as they court Latinos in Florida, which has the largest population of Puerto Ricans in the U.S., with nearly 1.2 million. Trump won Florida in 2016 and has virtually no path to the White House if he doesn't do so again. Polls are tight, and as the Trump campaign worries of support slipping among suburban and older voters, Latinos in Florida have become crucial.

Puerto Ricans represent 27% of Hispanics of voting age in Florida, trailing only Cuban-Americans. While it's unclear how many are Democrats or Republicans, Democrats have widened the gap of Hispanic voters registered for this election over the GOP compared with 2016. The gains were in counties with a high number of Puerto Ricans including Orange County, home to Orlando, and Hillsborough, home to Tampa. Polk County, where the Puerto Rican population has more than doubled since 2013, saw the fastest growth of Latino registered voters, with Democrats registering 21,000 more voters than Republicans. The gap in 2016 was 15,000. But those same counties also have a very high number of voters registered without party affiliation.

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The US has no plans to make Puerto Rico the 51st poverty state nor has it proven itself politica. The people of the Philippines, unlike Puerto Rico , voted to become independent, and they and the US parted ways without bloodshed. So, I’m not sure if you’re a Russian Troll, a North Korean Troll, or a

Puerto Rico voted overwhelmingly on Sunday to apply to Congress to become the 51st state , election officials said, although less than a quarter of eligible voters cast ballots in the plebiscite. Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello said voters in the economically troubled U . S . island territory

(From the left) conservative senator Nayda Venegas and Frances Lee, supporters of president Donald Trump, pose for a selfie moments before leaving for the headquarters of the Republican party in support of his candidacy a few weeks before the presidential election next November, in Carolina, Puerto Rico, Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020. President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden are targeting Puerto Rico in a way never seen before to gather the attention of tens of thousands of potential voters in the battleground state of Florida. (AP Photo/Carlos Giusti) © Provided by Associated Press (From the left) conservative senator Nayda Venegas and Frances Lee, supporters of president Donald Trump, pose for a selfie moments before leaving for the headquarters of the Republican party in support of his candidacy a few weeks before the presidential election next November, in Carolina, Puerto Rico, Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020. President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden are targeting Puerto Rico in a way never seen before to gather the attention of tens of thousands of potential voters in the battleground state of Florida. (AP Photo/Carlos Giusti)

“Puerto Ricans will play a very crucial role in this election,” said Yadira Sánchez, co-executive director of Poder Latinx, a U.S.-based non-profit group that aims to mobilize Latino voters.

Election observers, however, note Puerto Ricans have weaker voter turnout rates than other Hispanic groups that favor Republican candidates.

Trump recently secured an endorsement from Puerto Rico's governor and promised nearly $13 billion in additional aid last month to help the island rebuild from Hurricane Maria. During a recent rally in Florida, Trump declared: “I’m not gonna say the best, but I’m just about the best thing that ever happened to Puerto Rico. You better vote for me, Puerto Rico.” Many were quick to note that those living on the island don’t have that right.

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Related Topics. US election 2020. Click or tap on an underlined word for a short definition or explanation. Like most voting systems, the electoral college has a number of pros and cons but it is widely respected because of its historical roots in the founding of the US .

Puerto Rico has overwhelmingly voted to become the 51st state of the United States , in a referendum which promised "The United States of America will have to obey the will of our people!" he yelled to the crowd, clutching US flags and dancing to a tropical jingle that promoted statehood.

Supporters of president Donald Trump gather moments before leaving for the headquarters of the Republican party in support of his candidacy a few weeks before the presidential election next November, in Carolina, Puerto Rico, Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020. President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden are targeting Puerto Rico in a way never seen before to gather the attention of tens of thousands of potential voters in the battleground state of Florida. (AP Photo/Carlos Giusti) © Provided by Associated Press Supporters of president Donald Trump gather moments before leaving for the headquarters of the Republican party in support of his candidacy a few weeks before the presidential election next November, in Carolina, Puerto Rico, Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020. President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden are targeting Puerto Rico in a way never seen before to gather the attention of tens of thousands of potential voters in the battleground state of Florida. (AP Photo/Carlos Giusti)

Meanwhile, Biden granted an exclusive interview to Puerto Rico's main newspaper that for the first time in its 50 years endorsed a U.S. presidential candidate and asked those in the U.S. mainland to support Biden: “We ask that you, with the great power of your vote, especially in key electoral states, help open the way to the transformation effort that will honor the dignity and promote the progress of every person.”

Supporters of President Donald Trump gather moments before leaving for the headquarters of the Republican party in support of his candidacy a few weeks before the presidential election next November, in Carolina, Puerto Rico, Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020. President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden are targeting Puerto Rico in a way never seen before to gather the attention of tens of thousands of potential voters in the battleground state of Florida. (AP Photo/Carlos Giusti) © Provided by Associated Press Supporters of President Donald Trump gather moments before leaving for the headquarters of the Republican party in support of his candidacy a few weeks before the presidential election next November, in Carolina, Puerto Rico, Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020. President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden are targeting Puerto Rico in a way never seen before to gather the attention of tens of thousands of potential voters in the battleground state of Florida. (AP Photo/Carlos Giusti)

Biden recently launched digital and print ads on the island with the hashtag “HazloXMi,” or DoItForMe, urging Puerto Ricans to tell their friends and family on the U.S. mainland to participate: “With your vote over there, you help us here.”

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“Both campaigns are doing it thinking this will bounce back to Florida,” said Carlos Suárez, a political science professor at the University of Florida.

It’s unclear whether the indirect campaign strategy will work, but Luis Gutiérrez, a former U.S. representative who served 26 years in Congress and now lives in Puerto Rico, called it a smart move.

Puerto Ricans "are always in contact. Why? Because whether you’re one of 3 million on the island or 5 million somewhere else, you’re part of one community,” the Democrat said. “If you are born in Puerto Rico, it will be part of your life until the last day.”

A boy carries a pro-Trump flag flanked by two security guards and his mother moments before leaving for the headquarters of the Republican party in support of President Donald Trump's candidacy a few weeks before the presidential election next November, in Carolina, Puerto Rico, Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020. President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden are targeting Puerto Rico in a way never seen before to gather the attention of tens of thousands of potential voters in the battleground state of Florida. (AP Photo/Carlos Giusti) © Provided by Associated Press A boy carries a pro-Trump flag flanked by two security guards and his mother moments before leaving for the headquarters of the Republican party in support of President Donald Trump's candidacy a few weeks before the presidential election next November, in Carolina, Puerto Rico, Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020. President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden are targeting Puerto Rico in a way never seen before to gather the attention of tens of thousands of potential voters in the battleground state of Florida. (AP Photo/Carlos Giusti)

As the election draws near, pressure keeps growing on Puerto Ricans on the island and on the mainland.

Supporters of President Donald Trump gather moments before leaving for the headquarters of the Republican party in support of his candidacy a few weeks before the presidential election next November, in Carolina, Puerto Rico, Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020. President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden are targeting Puerto Rico in a way never seen before to gather the attention of tens of thousands of potential voters in the battleground state of Florida. (AP Photo/Carlos Giusti) © Provided by Associated Press Supporters of President Donald Trump gather moments before leaving for the headquarters of the Republican party in support of his candidacy a few weeks before the presidential election next November, in Carolina, Puerto Rico, Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020. President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden are targeting Puerto Rico in a way never seen before to gather the attention of tens of thousands of potential voters in the battleground state of Florida. (AP Photo/Carlos Giusti)

A Florida political group recently created a song set to the tune of “Rakatá” by Wisin y Yandel, a renowned Puerto Rican reggaeton duo who first became popular in the early 2000s. The song encourages Puerto Ricans who moved to Florida to use their new voting power and hurl a “chancleta” or flip-flop at Trump to help those living on the island: “He doesn’t care one bit for Boricuas.”

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  Latino Turnout Could Decide Who Wins Pennsylvania BETHLEHEM, Pa. ― When Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico in 2017, John Alvarado tried to tough it out for a few years. But with the island’s economy spiraling, it became increasingly hard for Alvarado and his family to survive. His college costs went up, but neither he nor his mother could find a job to help pay for it. Then, in January, the earthquakes began, disrupting his mother’s sleep. Running out of options, Alvarado, his mother and his stepfather moved to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, in February. Alvarado, who was politically active on the island, registered to vote shortly after moving to the mainland and is eager to cast his ballot for Democrats Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.

Trump’s campaign has countered with ads highlighting the billions of dollars his administration has pledged to help Puerto Rico recover from Maria, a Category 4 storm that caused an estimated $100 billion in damage and killed an estimated 2,975 people in its aftermath. However, the administration withheld billions of dollars in emergency aid for months, saying it worried about mismanagement and corruption on the island.

Wyneska Méndez, who moved to Miami from Puerto Rico eight years ago, said she would not let fellow Puerto Ricans influence her decision, adding that Trump is the only choice to protect the economy. She especially likes that Trump feels strongly against abortion because of her Christian faith, and she believes Puerto Rico needed to get its affairs in order to receive the same kind of relief offered to U.S. states.

A boy carries the U.S. flag while wearing a pro-Trump cap moments before leaving for the headquarters of the Republican party in support of President Donald Trump's candidacy a few weeks before the presidential election next November, in Carolina, Puerto Rico, Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020. President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden are targeting Puerto Rico in a way never seen before to gather the attention of tens of thousands of potential voters in the battleground state of Florida. (AP Photo/Carlos Giusti) © Provided by Associated Press A boy carries the U.S. flag while wearing a pro-Trump cap moments before leaving for the headquarters of the Republican party in support of President Donald Trump's candidacy a few weeks before the presidential election next November, in Carolina, Puerto Rico, Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020. President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden are targeting Puerto Rico in a way never seen before to gather the attention of tens of thousands of potential voters in the battleground state of Florida. (AP Photo/Carlos Giusti)

“I don’t let others get in my head,” Méndez said as she waited for a speech by Vice President Mike Pence on Thursday in Miami.

Dozens of Trump supporters who gathered Sunday in Puerto Rico for a rally shared her sentiment, saying the president has sent billions of dollars to help with hurricane reconstruction as they praised his pro-life stance.

Dr. Miriam Ramírez de Ferrer, a former senator and member of Puerto Rico's pro-statehood party, said that Trump's personality can be misinterpreted and that she believes he was joking when making comments about the island that critics have found offensive.

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“There have been many erroneous messages from certain Puerto Ricans toward Trump, and we don't want people to think that all Puerto Ricans are the same,” Ramírez said as she pulled down the face mask of a fellow Trump supporter decorated with bald eagles and U.S. flags.

Despite the aid Puerto Rico has received under the Trump administration, Mediavilla and his brother, Omar, who lives in Puerto Rico, remain unswayed.

“It's a great help, but really, in the end, I see it as a political strategy,” said Omar Mediavilla, adding that he is grateful his brother was motivated by the aftermath of Maria to support Biden. “They’re our voice carrying our complaints ... It’s important that Puerto Ricans over there give us this opportunity.”

Supporters of President Donald Trump gather moments before leaving for the headquarters of the Republican party in support of his candidacy a few weeks before the presidential election next November, in Carolina, Puerto Rico, Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020. President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden are targeting Puerto Rico in a way never seen before to gather the attention of tens of thousands of potential voters in the battleground state of Florida. (AP Photo/Carlos Giusti) © Provided by Associated Press Supporters of President Donald Trump gather moments before leaving for the headquarters of the Republican party in support of his candidacy a few weeks before the presidential election next November, in Carolina, Puerto Rico, Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020. President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden are targeting Puerto Rico in a way never seen before to gather the attention of tens of thousands of potential voters in the battleground state of Florida. (AP Photo/Carlos Giusti)

Some who live on the island remain wary of the campaigning to influence Puerto Ricans on the mainland.

Omar Soto, a production supervisor whose brother lives in Lakeland, Florida, said the strategies are pointless.

“It seems like there’s a tone of despair,” he said, adding that he believes it could backfire. “I think it’s disrespectful. We should have the option to vote for president.”

___

Associated Press writer Danica Coto reported this story in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and AP writer Adriana Gomez Licon reported from Miami.

7 days from Election Day -- Here's what we know about who's voted so far in key states .
One week from Election Day, early voters so far are younger, more racially diverse and more likely to be Democrats than they were ahead of the 2016 election in many of the key states that could decide the next president. © Joe Raedle/Getty Images DORAL, FLORIDA - OCTOBER 14: I voted stickers are seen as people drop off their Vote-by Mail ballots at the Miami-Dade Election Department headquarters on October 14, 2020 in Doral, Florida. More than 1.9 million Floridians had voted by mail according to statistics posted online by the Florida Division of Elections.

usr: 2
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